Decision Threatens Endangered Red Wolves, Other Wildlife, People and Pets
North Carolina/Washington D.C.: The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Project Coyote expressed grave concerns in response to the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission’s decision to allow unlimited night hunting of coyotes and feral pigs, which could begin this summer. The Commission approved the rules largely to provide new opportunities for hunters to expand hunting opportunities, not as a means to effectively manage wildlife populations.
North Carolina currently allows night hunting of feral pigs (with special permits) but prohibits night hunting of coyotes. The new rules allow hunters to kill an unlimited number of coyotes and feral pigs, 24 hours a day. This decision substantially increases the threat to the remaining 110 or so endangered red wolves in the state—animals that are difficult to distinguish from coyotes even in daylight, let alone at night. Approximately 7 percent of red wolves are killed annually by North Carolina hunters; a kill rate that will escalate with night hunting.
“This proposal is ethically indefensible and ecologically reckless,” said Camilla Fox, Executive Director of Project Coyote and Wildlife Consultant with AWI. “As the only area where red wolves still exist in the world, North Carolina should be doing all it can to protect and recover this highly endangered species—not expanding indiscriminate killing.”
In addition to the threat to red wolves, night hunting will increase non-target animal kills, endanger public and law enforcement personnel safety, result in more wounded animals, facilitate poaching, and hamper wildlife law enforcement efforts. What it won’t do, contrary to the Commission’s claim, is effectively control coyote or feral pig populations—as killing is known actually to trigger increases in reproductive rates and survival in these species.
“Expanding night hunting opportunities in North Carolina cannot be justified by any measure,” states AWI Wildlife Biologist D.J. Schubert. “Allowing armed individuals access to North Carolina’s woods and fields at night to shoot at coyotes and feral pigs is a recipe for disaster and tragedy.”
As part of the rulemaking process, AWI and Project Coyote submitted substantive comments to the Commission, documenting a number of deficiencies with the rules. They also suggested that the Commission pursue alternative forms of wildlife management and more effective, non-lethal methods of reducing conflicts between coyotes, people, and their domestic animals. Sadly, although only 1 percent of North Carolinians hunt, the Commission rejected this advice and instead chose a plan that will exacerbate wildlife/human conflicts and endanger North Carolinians.
The Animal Welfare Institute has been working to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by humans since 1951. Project Coyote promotes active coexistence between people and wildlife and compassionate conservation through education, science and advocacy.
Tara Zuardo - AWI, (202) 446-2148, firstname.lastname@example.org
Camilla Fox - Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, email@example.com